This month I’ve written several posts about user experience, and not one was dedicated solely to website or website design (I left that for Pat DePuy). In fact, I purposefully neglected to talk exclusively about website design and user experience.

Here’s why: user experience is more than your website’s design.


While websites are capable of doing a great deal, creating emotions included, they have some limitations. Websites aren’t people (shocking revelation, I know). Sure, they’ve become more intuitive, but they’ll never replace a real, live human being. At least not in the foreseeable future.

And I don’t think they should. I’m a firm believer in speaking with and having access to a person when I need assistance. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to have to jump through hoops for a fix that could be executed through one simple conversation with a knowledgeable person. But that’s a discussion for another time.

We need to start thinking of user experience in a broader sense. From a branding perspective, if you will.

Choose your emotions carefully

User experience should reflect your customers’ emotions and feelings, so choosing the emotions and feelings you want to evoke in your customers is essential.

Your industry, target audience, and the message you’re trying to convey will all play a role in deciding which emotion(s) you stir. These elements will also play a role in determining how you target certain feelings using different tools and techniques.

For example, if you’re in an industry fueled by a sense of urgency or disgust, such as pest control and exterminators, you’ll want to tailor your marketing efforts to evoke this feeling. Whether you’re creating a website or TV advertisement, play on the creepy, crawling and “eww” emotions that people experience when thinking of beetles, cockroaches and mice in their homes.

In this example, you should use action-oriented verbiage on your website and in your ads to create a sense of urgency to get these pesky pests out of your home. You might even create a video series showing the damage different pests can leave behind when left to wreak havoc on your home.

But, as we know, a successful user experience that seizes an audience’s emotions can be warm and fuzzy as well. One brand that has been extremely successful in playing on their audience’s emotions is Walt Disney World. Whether I visit the website, watch an advertisement on TV for their theme parks and resorts, see a print ad, or visit one of their theme parks, I’m always met with adventure.

Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando  Florida

Even at my age, EVERY time I see anything Disney, I think of the trips I took as a child. I reminisce about the adventures I had and the pure happiness Disney is and creates.

And here’s the thing: these emotions and feelings Disney creates are at the core of their brand. We can all learn a little from Disney.

Examples like Disney are all around us. Look around you; are there any small businesses (maybe your own) that successfully create emotion-evoking experiences (outside of their website) through their branding?

In Buffalo, we’re all about our food and drinks. So it’s only natural that many of our beloved, hometown establishments leave lasting impressions with the experiences they create.

While several come to mind, one my front runners when it comes to creating an experience is Swiston’s Beef & Keg. Their website is nearly as simple as their menu, which features just two items. Yes, you read that correctly. This restaurant has TWO food items on its menu: beef on weck (or a plain roll) and homemade chili. But don’t worry, they have a full bar and free popcorn.

s Beef & Keg
Source: Swiston’s Beef & Keg Facebook Page

You’re probably thinking how in the world does a place like this leave such a lasting impression. Well, for one, the beef on weck (roast beef on a kimmelweck roll) — a Buffalo staple — is out of this world. I’ve had plenty on weck sandwiches in my lifetime, and not one has ever come close to rivaling the perfectly cooked, generously sized portion of beef served at Swiston’s. Beyond the dependable food, I love that they have NO menus. I mean, they don’t need them with two menu items, but it does make for an interesting experience at a restaurant.

I’d heard about Swiston’s for years; my mom and grandma would frequent the establishment with friends. However, last summer was my first (second and third) Swiston’s experience. And I’ve been talking about it ever since. I’ve been contemplating how a restaurant can function with two menu items, and I’ve been thinking about the impression it left with me. Until today, I’ve never even looked to see if they had a website or Facebook page. That’s because they don’t need it.

Call me old fashioned, but any business that can leaving a millennial marketer thinking twice about their marketing and user experience approach without a real digital presence deserves some recognition.

User experience should play a role in your overall brand strategy

At the core of your product or service, you must have an idea of how you want people to interact with your brand and how you want people to feel after using your brand.

Are you solving a problem, providing solutions/answers, or are you attempting to entertain your audience? This will not only help you market your products and services, but it will also help you position yourself among your competition.

Decide how you’re going to create continuous positive experiences for your users.

How is your product or service going to make their lives easier, more exciting, less stressful, happier, etc.? How does this fit in with your overall brand message? How does this product or service add value to your brand?

Most importantly, how are you going to elicit those feelings at every touch point? How will your packaging, website, social platforms, and in-store experience add to the overall user experience? How do you expect your employees to behave? What is it about your company’s culture that supports your brand strategy and dedication to providing exceptional user experience?

User experience is NOT limited to your website

You must create a seamless experience at every touch point including your website, social platforms, promotional marketing materials, face-to-face encounters, and products/services. After all, your customers are your brand ambassadors. They’re the individuals (and groups) who have the ability to influence others through word-of-mouth, social media, online reviews, testimonials, etc.

Sure, the design of your site is important in providing information about your brand and guiding people to taking specific actions, but UX is more than the interaction with your site.

What happens after your users visit your website? Where do they go? Are they calling you? Are they placing an order? Are they stopping into your brick and mortar?

If and/or when they take the next step to becoming a customer, how are you delighting them (along the way and after they become a customer)?

Ensuring your customers are happy is part of UX. In fact, it’s a big part of it.

I realize this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to thinking of UX from an emotional and branding perspective, but I wanted to give you some food for thought. What do you think: can we broaden UX to include more aspects of marketing or are we too far stuck in our ways? Let me know in the comments below.